One study found that while vacuuming does reduce dust and dirt levels it does nothing against dust mite populations, it also can't remove bugs, bacteria, fungi, or chemicals from your carpet. |
The average human sheds 1.5 million skin flakes in a single hour. The average American at least, spends 90% of their time indoors. Carpet is the most common household flooring choice in the US with 80% of bedrooms and 65% of living rooms being carpeted. As a result dead skin cells contribute greatly to the dirt content in your carpet.
Pet Dander: Pet dander is basically skin flakes, oils and hair omitted by animals. Carpet traps this dander allowing it to collect. 15% to 30% of the populace is allergic in some degree to pet dander, many of which don't even realize it. If you don't have any pets you wouldn't expect pet dander to be in your home, however dander can come in on shoes, blow in through doors and windows or be brought in with visitors to be stored in carpet.
Dust mites are a microscopic arachnid that feed on those dead skin cells and animal dander in carpet. Over 100,000 dust mites can be found in around 10 sq feet of carpet. These mites reproduce and die every 3 weeks. While not posing a health risk themselves, dust mites' fecal pellets and decomposing bodies cause an allergic reaction in 18-30% of the populace. In addition homes that are heavily carpeted have such a high level of dead mites (around 100,000 every three weeks per 10 feet of carpet!) and fecal pellets that 50% of the remaining populace that isn't allergic to dust mites will also exhibit symptoms of an allergy ranging from common cold like symptoms and skin rashes to difficulty breathing . They may also cause asthma and eczema.
A study done in 2002 found that even non-problematic, moisture free homes with proper cleaning could harbor various fungi species within their padding. In the test a clean bedroom floor with no moisture source present 18 species of active fungus. Increased levels of humidity or moisture from bathrooms, kitchens, plumbing and environmental influence can increase this number. Fungi and molds are another known source of allergies and certain types can release toxic chemicals known as mycotoxins.
Pollen and other not so pleasant ingredients:
Much of what ends up in carpet is walked in from outside. This can include but is not limited to pollen, plant particles, fecal matter, sand, gravel, pesticides, ash, lead, arsenic, soil and bug bits. Pollen and certain types of plants are yet another common allergen. Children found crawling on carpets with lead contamination simply brought in on shoes, showed elevated lead levels in blood tests.
Other bugs that can live in your carpet besides dust mites:
On top of the lovely recipe for carpet dirt explained above carpet also presents a lovely home for many other insects besides the dust mite. Including:
Bed bugs: While called bed bugs these blood sucking critters will take up residence under carpeting creeping up into beds to reproduce and feed.
Fleas and ticks: Two more forms of blood sucking insect that also find carpet padding an idea place to lay eggs and/or hide. While fleas are the more commonly found intruder, ticks can carry harmful diseases and pose a health risk.
Carpet beetles: While not dangerous, carpet beetles consist of several species of beetle that dwell under carpeting. They feed on mostly cloth fibers including that which your carpet is made of, but may also sneak into dry food stores particularly grains and animal feed.
Bacteria and Viruses thrive in carpet:
One square inch of carpeting can harbor 200,000 bacteria and many viruses can survive in carpet for extended amounts of time, longer than on dry wood or tile surfaces. In example the Norwalk virus which causes flu like symptoms and salmonella can survive for well over a month.
Chemicals in carpet:
While the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that no definitive studies have linked the chemicals found in new carpet to health issues it isn't denied they are there, nor disproven that they don't cause health problems. A study done in the UK in 2001 tested 8 samples of new off the line carpet. They found 2 samples contained organotins which may be linked to autoimmune disease. Three samples contained permethin a toxic pesticide that is suggested to cause cancer, may be linked to Parkinson's and is known to cause a long list of symptoms in humans. Three samples also contained flame retardants. A surprising 6 samples contained formaldehyde.
Carpet also holds chemicals that are introduced after installation. For example if you walk into your house with gasoline on your shoes or you smoke (nicotine) , those chemicals end up in the carpet's padding and can hang around anywhere from a few days to a few years depending on the chemical.
More relevant and helpful information of this topic in the links below:
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